The long-awaited Scrub-Jay split has officially happened! Western Scrub-Jay can be crossed out in a our fields guides (yes, I do that) and the two new names California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay can be penciled in. California Scrub-Jays are more coastal and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are more inland, there is a bit of overlap of their ranges in Nevada. The two species have differences in appearance, habitat, voice and behavior. The scientific name for California Scrub-Jay is Aphelocoma californica and for Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay it is Aphelocoma woodhouseii.
Our “new” scrub-jay gets its name from Samuel Washington Woodhouse (1821-1904), a doctor and naturalist who was the author of A Naturalist in Indian Territory: The Journal of S. W. Woodhouse. He also had a toad named in his honor.
So the scrub-jays here in the Great Basin and the Interior West are now Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays. I don’t know about any one else but for the time being I am just going to call them “scrub-jays” when I spot them in the field until I get used to calling the jays by their new and fancier sounding name.
I guess I need to head west to add California Scrub-Jays to my portfolio!
Life is good. Birds make it better!
The first image was taken near Cascade Springs in the Uinta National Forest, Wasatch County, the second image was taken in Ophir Canyon in Tooele County, Utah